BOWLS: Big challenges await as new season starts

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The new outdoor season has started for most clubs in the county, and all of the competitors in county competitions are gearing themselves up to start their challenges in the next few days.

The men’s fours is the first to be played, with the first round on May 6.

A look at the draws for the competitions show some interesting clashes with the current titleholders likely to be facing some pretty hard matches in many of them. The following is a snapshot of some of them:

Three of the women’s competitions are a repeat in the early rounds of last year’s finals, including the Under 25 Pairs between Chloe Wordingham (High Ferrers) and Jasmin Spear (Kingsthorpe) and Grace and Helena Wilson of Finedon BC.

In the Fours, Brenda Bishop’s rink from Kingsthorpe, who were national runners-up last season, take on club-mates as they face Sharon Tansley’s rink.

The Secretary/Treasurers Cup sees last year’s winner Pat Bodily of Northampton Whyte Melville take on last year’s runner-up Alison Dring (Swanspool BC).

In the men’s competitions, Jamie Walker of Northampton West End BC, winner of the County Singles and a national semi-finalist in 2014, faces Will M Parker of Northampton Express BC in the first round.

Walker, with Shaun Marriott, will face Tom Wellburn and partner, of Kingsthorpe, in the defence of their title in the Pairs.

In the Fours, an interesting family and club clash is in prospect when the holders Dominic Graham’s rink from Northampton Express BC, which includes Ian Bland, faces a rink in the name of Ian’s son Chris Bland, also of Northampton Express BC.

On the Inter County front, the Northants Women have a full fixture list of both competitive and friendly matches, with the most important ones being the Johns Trophy matches starting with Huntingdonshire at the end of May.

Further Johns Trophy matches follow against Bedfordshire (June 20), Norfolk (June 27) and Hertfordshire (July 4).

The Middle England League starts very early, with the first match against Warwickshire on May 12, and this will be followed by further matches against Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Leicestershire.

The Walker Cup inter county double rink competition will feature the County against Bedfordshire on June 21.

Northants Men’s inter county challenges start earlier than the ladies with a Middleton Cup practice match against Oxfordshire on May 9, followed by the real thing against Leicestershire on May 30.

The County then play Norfolk (June 6), Essex (June 13) and Suffolk (June 20).

The Midland Counties championship offers six matches, starting with Derbyshire on May 16.

This is followed by matches against Lincolnshire (May 23), Leicestershire (July 11), Warwickshire (July 25), Nottinghamshire (August 8) and Worcestershire (Sept 5).

In addition to the Inter County matches, Northants face a number of friendly matches.

Jack’s the lad as he claims third spot

Northampton & District IBC youngster Jack Lee secured a third-place finish in the Midlands Regional Finals of the EBYDS, which were held at Melton & District IBC.

The School of Excellence is split into two age groups: the Senior Group aged between 15 and 18 years, and the Junior Group being Under 15 years.

Lee, who is 12,had a great day, netting 75 points in total (20 in the round robin and 55 points in the skills), and this was good enough to claim third place in the Junior Group.

He was edged out of second place on shots difference by another Northants bowler in Harvey Johnson of Rushden IBC, while the winner was also from the county.

Bruce Sibbett of Kettering Lodge won all three of his competitive matches, and the 11-year-old then went on to get 46 points in the skills - 76 points in all.

There was also some Northants success in the senior section, with Rushden Town’s Adam Pitfield finishing second, missing out on the top spot by just two points.